One of the most well known destinations in the Caribbean, Jamaica is famous for its free-spirited culture and beautiful scenery. The island's landscape is highly varied, with everything from swamplands and stretching plains to rugged coastlines and tranquil seashores. The highest point in Jamaica is the renowned Blue Mountain Peak, which rises up to 7,402 feet.
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The northern coasts of Jamaica are loaded with attractions and activities to please every travel style. Sitting just east of Montego Bay on the map, the Rose Hall Great House provides insight to the island's past with a restored historical property that was once home to the infamous Palmer family. To the east in Falmouth, the Mathra Brae River is an excellent spot to enjoy a leisurely day of rafting that guides you down a 3-mile river lined with breathtaking natural sights. Or, head to the area near Runaway Bay for a visit to the Green Grotto Caves, which offer guests a visit to a subterranean lake and large limestone cave adorned with stalactites. Other notable natural attractions include the thick collection of over 500 fern species found in Fern Gully near Ocho Rios, and the nearby national treasure of Dunn's River Falls.
The beaches along the northern coast are famous for their unique scenic settings. On the right side of the map, the beaches of Port Antonio are known for their enchanting waterfalls, which often times flow directly into the sea. The waters off the coasts of this area are protected as marine reserves. In the center of the northern coast, the beaches near Ocho Rios and Runaway Bay are perched alongside thick vegetation comprised of blooming hibiscus flowers and other exotic plants.
On the westernmost tip of Jamaica, Negril Cliffs and Seven Mile Beach offer astounding cliff views paired with seemingly untouched sandy shores. Head east of Negril, and you'll come across YS Falls. This 7 layered waterfall located on the YS Estate features a wading pool and river tube rides. Another notable attraction is the Hope Botanical Gardens and Zoo in Kingston. This sprawling property offers an ideal spot for picnics, as well as a friendly zoo that is home to tropical birds and other wildlife.
Seven Mile Beach and Negril are perhaps the most popular places to stay in Jamaica. This region offers a pleasant mix of everything from large resorts and all-inclusive properties to smaller lodging facilities, as well as rental villas and apartments. Negril has a rustic atmosphere, ideal for the traveler looking to soak up the tropical spirit of Jamaica without the hassles of the more developed areas. While Negril is more rural than some other parts of Jamaica, it is very popular with tourists, so you'll find lively evening entertainment, plentiful dining options, guided excursions and more.
With close proximity to the Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay is another favorite destination for visitors. This area has a bit more of a city vibe than Negril, with shops, restaurants, bars and some lodging options clustered in town, with other hotels located nearby. Guests staying in the Montego Bay area won't run out of activities, including horseback riding, shopping, extensive restaurant options, live entertainment and more. Stock up on souvenirs at the Montego Craft Market, or spend your afternoon tubing down the Great River – the options are nearly endless.
White sands and crystal clear water await travelers who plan to stay at Ocho Rios in Jamaica. This vacation spot is a good choice if you are interested in exploring nature and soaking up authentic Jamaican culture. Nearby outdoor attractions include Dunn's River Falls and Fern Gully, while the indoor activities range from Bob Marley's resting place to the Coyaba River Museum. Accommodations in this area include beach resorts, charming inns and a large selection of rental properties.
Jamaica is a large island, and there are numerous other places to stay. Kingston is the largest city, so it offers excellent air service, but rising crime rates have given the area a bad reputation in recent years. There are plenty of other, less urbanized places to consider, including Falmouth, Runaway Bay, Treasure Beach and Port Antonio.
Unlike some Caribbean nations that only have a single airport, Jamaica is equipped with two major airports, as well as some smaller ones. Located in Montego Bay, the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) serves flights to and numerous cities in the United States, Canada and Europe. The other major option is to fly into Kingston, in which case your plane will be landing at the Norman Manley International Airport (KIN). This facility provides service to the United States, Canada, Europe, other Caribbean countries and various places throughout Jamaica. Other, less common, possibilities are flying into the Boscobel (Ian Fleming) International Airport (OCJ), located east of Ocho Rios or the Negril Airport (NEG).
Jamaica offers three main ports for arrival via cruise ship. Nestled between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, the Falmouth port is attractive to the cruise lines because it places passengers equidistant between these popular destinations. Some ships dock directly at the Port of Ocho Rios, which is located just outside the main town area within easy walking distance. Finally, the port at Montego Bay provides a third place where ships anchor; it offers ample shopping opportunities aimed to please tourists.
If you're interested in seeing Jamaica from the water, you could consider transportation by ferry. One of the most popular ferry services takes passengers from the shores of Kingston to Port Royal. There are ferries, as well, such as the Port Antonio ferry that travels to Navy Island.
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